From its roots as a traditional 2D platforming game in the 1980s, to its reinvention as a massive first person sci-fi adventure title in 2002, the gameplay of the Metroid series has continually moved with the times. However, bounty hunter Samus Aran's primary foe has largely remained the same. Ever since the very first Metroid game appeared on the NES back in 1986, she's been facing off against a malevolent gang of troublemakers known as the Space Pirates.
Their conflict begins in the first game, with Samus charged with stopping the Space Pirates attempts to exploit the Metroids - a newly discovered alien race which can drain the lifeforce out of anyone in their path - for their own evil needs. She sets off for their home planet of Zebes to do battle with their leader, the monstrous winged lizard Ridley.
Although it was released many years after Metroid 2 and Super Metroid, the next stop in the timeline is actually the GameCube's Metroid Prime. Here, Samus follows a distress call to the planet Tallon IV and finds the Space Pirates regrouped and mining a mysterious substance known as Phazon. Again, she must defeat them before they can unleash the power of the huge Metroid Prime which is feeding off it.
The Space Pirates took a back seat to the evil Ing civilisation in the sequel but return for Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. In the final part of the Prime trilogy, the Pirates wage all out war on the Galactic Federation, attempting to corrupt member planets with phazon. Samus must traverse the galaxy in search of the phazon's source and then destroy it.
Again, we don't hear much of the Space Pirates in the next chronological step in the timeline, the Game Boy's Metroid 2: Return of Samus, as Samus travels to the Metroid's home planet of SR388 to destroy them once and for all. However, Ridley and co are back in force for its follow-up, Super Metroid on the SNES, attempting to steal the lone Metroid that Samus brought back from SR388. Samus then follows Ridley back to a rebuilt Zebes for a final showdown, before facing off against the all-powerful Mother Brain.
The latest entry in the series, the forthcoming Metroid: Other M, picks up the story here, with Samus making up part of a rescue team investigating a distress signal on a space station called The Bottle Ship. Will the Space Pirates be back? Well, you'll just have to wait and see.